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Poster: grendelschoice Date: Apr 6, 2007 6:24am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

Been struggling w/this question (myself) for a while, want to get other opinions.

When I hear Jerry and/or Bob F--- up a lyric, it really messes up the song for me (yes, so MANY songs for me are messed up :-)

But I wonder if that too high standard is keeping me from otherwise killer versions of tunes. One example that breaks my own rule is the Fire in Scarlet>Fire from 9-25-81....Jerry butchers the opening verse but the rest is so good I overlook it.

How do others feel? For me, once I hear a lyrical screw-up, the song driops at least one full star in my estimation.

Thoughts? Examples of tunes i'm missing out on b/c of this snobby approach?

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Poster: stratocaster Date: Apr 6, 2007 6:40am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

most SOTMs have a lyric fuck-up and Weir screws up Truckin left and right, but I'll deal with a botched word/ line or two, it's a Dead thing, but it also has something to do with how important the line is to the song...for instance, botching the "inspiration" line in Terrapin or swapping and fucking up the lyrics in He's Gone, kill the tune just about...

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Poster: midnight sun Date: Apr 6, 2007 5:23pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

hey Grendel;

i think that we sometimes forget that in order for them to keep performances fresh and vital GD rarely practiced together...and they also were capable of playing the better part of a run without repeating more than a few songs

not only that, but EVERY TIME they played a tune it was different, not just in the jams but within the "head" of the song the various passages were different instrumentally, sometimes lyrically (both by chance and design) and the vocal lines themselves sung using different melodies, harmonies, phrasing...talk about courage to take chances!

mainstream audiences not only expect but demand well polished performances, yet would never consider attending an event by even their most beloved performers more than once every year or two

i'm not going to pretend that mistakes shouldn't be a bummer, but if occasional human imperfection is the price to be paid in return for dynamic and creative music worth experiencing many, many times a year, then i suspect the band (or the fans) wouldn't have it any other way

good thread!

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Poster: BryanE Date: Apr 6, 2007 6:37pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

"GD rarely practiced together"

The opposite of that is much closer to the truth. During their first several years together, rehearsals took place constantly. Jerry was especially obsessive about practicing and got frustrated with the other guys for not having the dedication to it that he had. Weir and Pigpen came close to getting their asses kicked out for not wanting to put in the hours of practice that Garcia viewed as being necessary if the band was to be as good as it could be. There is certainly a lot to be said for the improvisational nature of Grateful Dead music because it is part and parcel of the whole enchilada, but at some point it becomes a bit overstated. There was an awful lot of woodshedding that went into their being able to pull off the incredible legendary jams that were the trademark of their shows. As time went on, the rehearsal time with each other decreased, but it never stopped by any means, and the reason it continued was basically the same as ever, which was to keep the chops sharp. Practice sessions amounted to playing any and all of the songs that were part of the repertoire and playing them with as much energy as was put into a live performance. No matter how many hundreds of times they ever played Not Fade Away in concert, it was still a great tune to use to get themselves warm while practicing. They had great fun with it while only playing to each other, and that is a huge reason why it was so much fun when they did it for us. We all know the ugly truth about Jerry the Junkie, but addict or not, he maintained a devotion to his craft, and so did everyone else in the band. They had to rehearse. It couldn't be expected of them to just waltz out on stage and play The Days Between without knowing the song.

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Poster: midnight sun Date: Apr 7, 2007 3:22am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

BryanE, thanks for your reply

no doubt they rehearsed in the early years...and in later eras, new songs and breakout songs (e.g. 1983 Help>Slip) were given a thorough pre-performance thrashing as evidenced on this here archive

but formal rehearsal of one song at minimum takes the better part of an hour...by the 80's, with around 100 songs in their repertoire that would be about 2 weeks of 8 hours a day solid rehearsals just to get through the rotation once...throw in JGB tours (with more added rehearsals to break in new members) between GD tours and your premise is mathematically impossible

and i'm not suggesting that Jer was a lunch bucket either...he had a thorough understanding of harmonic progression and a well organized personal practice regime, as well as an inexhaustible drive to get together with a great many musicians on the side...hence keeping up the chops

i recall from the official anthology (1984?) that Brent stated that the other members advised him not to practice the specific songs once he was familiar with them (not even by himself) to avoid his performances from becoming predictable...and i seem to recall the band saying that the rotation of songs in performances alone was causing some degree of stagnation (?)

i know it sounds crazy, but pros are plenty capable of using their knowledge of harmonic progression coupled with ear training to find their way around without having to necessarily memorize every last note, chord and rhythm...almost any song has harmonic progressions similar to almost any other song...understanding progressions opens the doors to understanding all songs without a need for regular revisiting of each song...besides, anyway you look at it, in the western hemisphere there is only a grand total of 12 notes to choose from (plus respective octaves)...reading, writing and understanding the English language is by far a more daunting task

i personally know many excellent jazz musicians who from time to time find themselves faced with performing tunes that they have not practiced or played in years (if ever) with other musicians they met only ten minutes before the gig...fake books (music notation) in these particular situations (and no, NOT ALL situations) are just a joke to these cats, for they often choose strange keys and are constantly sliding in alternate chord changes on the fly...but the performance sure ain't no joke
(as a side note, leaders will often discourage musicians from shaking hands before the gig because it might give the client or audience the impression that they have either never met or haven’t seen each other in a long while)

GD performances do not sound well rehearsed to me, and that is what draws me...however, you appear to be much better informed than myself...if you can provide me with references to support your premise (rehearsal recordings, band member interviews) that during the 80's they rehearsed their entire repertoire even as often as it was performed, then i may very well reconsider my views on the subject of GD rehearsal

looking forward to further discussions...

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Poster: BryanE Date: Apr 7, 2007 3:27pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

I wouldn't suggest that they rehearsed every song in the catalog every time they ever got together. That would be impractical. But I am saying that it was standard for them to get on the phone tree between tours, "let's get together this weekend," as their personal schedules and free time allowed, and when they did, to play whatever they felt like playing that day, be it, as the example I used, Not Fade Away, or The Other One, or The Wheel, or Peggy-o, etc. Do I want to dig up quotes in interviews I've read over the years to substantiate it? Nah. I don't feel very good and I'm not in the mood for research.

I do remember that anecdote about Brent, though. But I think that was also their way of breaking him in, to see if he had what it took to be on his toes in the way that their style of presentation required. And the freedom to make it up as they went along every night of the week helped keep them going, without a doubt. Great, unexpected things happened all the time because of that. And, yes, any pro worth his salt should be able to step in on a moment's notice, with only a minimum of rehearsal for the passages that require a firm arrangment of notes and rhythm, and fall right in. No, the Dead weren't joined at the hip with the door locked while they spent 40 hours a week playing together off stage. I do maintain, though, that, also as professional musicians, the Dead did not, as a blanket policy, eschew rehearsal just to keep it fresh while on stage. It doesn't matter how long one has been playing, performing, or what style of music floats one's boat, ask any music teacher and they will all tell you the same thing: practice, practice, practice. And the Dead spent a lot more time doing that than is generally recognized.

Going back to the original question of this thread, they certainly could have benefitted from some rehearsal time with lyric sheets in front of them. I don't know if I EVER saw Uncle John's Band done "right." Were they playing to the tide? Were they by the river side? Were we supposed to come on ALONG or go alone, or were they asking, "Come on with ME"? Ever see Brent and Jerry sharing a tacit laugh with each other as they sang "How does THIS song go?" (as opposed to "THE song," which is how it's written)? And that is STILL my all-time favorite Grateful Dead song, so perhaps that would indicate where my head is on this whole topic.

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Poster: midnight sun Date: Apr 7, 2007 10:06pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

hey Bryan;

don't know how we managed to get so polarized on this one, but my original statement was merely an attempt to compare the GD approach of minimal rehearsal to that of other bands that do not make an abundance of miscues

Brent's statement fits well...there is such a phenomenon as over practice, something that a music teacher is lucky to see even once in his career, but when involving full grown experienced musicians, i believe that over rehearsal is the kiss of death for most projects...at the same time, individual practice is absolutely essential for continued growth with a surprising amount of that time spent away from the instrument developing what harmonic studies refer to as "tonal vision" (apparently there isn't a term in the English language to describe inner sound???)

i have often wondered about UJB as well...surely they could have identified the problem and fixed it with individual effort, or possibly a brief review involving the vocalists while riding in a limo from the airport on their way to a show...it is observations such as this that support the premise that they did in fact eschew regular rehearsals for the sake of spontaneity in their performances

i didn't mean to try and back you into a corner on this one, but if you should happen across any additional info on this subject i would be grateful if you could pass it along in a future thread

when feeling good, health can seem almost irrelevant…when feeling not so good, health is everything...hope you’re feeling better soon

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Poster: BryanE Date: Apr 8, 2007 10:52am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

Thanks-just can't seem to shake it, Sugaree. It's been about three weeks now, and I'm just weary. Hopefully tomorrow.
Happy Easter.

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Poster: Fishead Date: Apr 7, 2007 5:56am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

most bands do rehearsals to support albums and the dead were no different ..now of course they didnt rehearse for every tour but they would rehearse certain songs..especially breakouts.....

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Poster: grendelschoice Date: Apr 7, 2007 7:11am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

Yes, I've made many of these arguments myself in defending the Dead from those who would say "how can you tolerate a professional band forgetting the words to their own songs?", etc...

I'd say, yes, but they have hundreds of songs to choose from, play them spontaneously at a moments' notice within each show, play them differently each time....while YOUR band plays 15 songs, pre-chosen, rehearsed til the point that they might as well be pre-recorded and played off a CD player, they have maybe 50 songs in total to choose from, rarely dip into older material when they're touring for a new album, and any band member who dares to stray during the performance of a somg will be killed on the spot backstage during the break.

I realy agree with al you say about what we got from the Dead in exchange for the occassional mistake...I guess what's frustrating these days, is without the benefit of being there live, soaking in the energy and atmosphere of the crowd, getting lost in THE MOMENT, etc., now i'm scrutinzing the tapes more, listening in my car or stereo at home, and without those other mitigating factprs the warts become more glaring....really, I guess what it amounts to is I miss seeing my favorite band live...and these shows were never meant to be listened to as "polished" examples of live performances...they are moments in time, and at those moments, they were the purest expression I can imagine of the freedom of musical inspiration and passion.

Guess i'm surprised too by the passionate response this thread generated! Lots of opinions on how important it was to get those words right!

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Poster: midnight sun Date: Apr 7, 2007 1:39pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

excellent summation Grendel! (and funny as all hell to boot)

has anyone ever noticed how Jer almost never screws up the lyrics to Chinacat? i've come across a few where he does slip, but it is interesting that what you would think would be a real tongue twister more often than not survives, where even the simplest of lyrics of other songs crash and burn

...and i still wouldn't have it any other way

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Poster: grendelschoice Date: Apr 7, 2007 1:58pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

Yes, that IS something....likewise, he usually nails all the lyrics to T-JED, even tho' there are many different words and the music is virtually the same all the way thru....i would think that would make it much harder....yet he can't remember the relatively simple batch of words to "help on the way", or the simple 3 verses (sometimes just 2!) that he needed to remember for FIRE on the Mountain! Weird, but go figure.

Hey, nice call on that "To Lay me Down" from Rochester, btw...DL'd it and it's a keeper. Beautiful tune. (and Jer remembers all the words in this version ;-)

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Poster: midnight sun Date: Apr 7, 2007 2:10pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

To Lay Me Down is a good example of the way he changed lyrics on the fly (by chance or design?)

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Poster: buscameby Date: Apr 6, 2007 11:41am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

I always looked at the lyric flubs at shows I attended, as test of my ability to release my self importance and to see if I could just stay in the energy.

It was harder to release not hearing what I thought would have been a "more" appropriate song than to forgive the boys for being lost in the moment or higher than I was at the time!

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Poster: grendelschoice Date: Apr 6, 2007 12:36pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

What's funny is how as DeadHeads we all "put up with" their mistakes...as has been pointed out by many of you--part of their iconoclasm, perhaps...we sacrifice the "coloring inside the lines" rigidness for those golden stretches of improvisational genius...outside of the jazz greats like coltrane and Monk, etc., no one (at least in rock) provided the impromptu moments of musical nirvana like the Dead.

It's hard for 'outsiders" to get, though...and it's tough to explain it, I think...if people are used to the 3-chord rock sound, w/pre-planned set lists and live performances that sound just like the studio albums turned up to 11, they don't understand how we can tolerate messed up lyrics, and occasional off note, or, say, Donna.

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Poster: clashcity Date: Apr 6, 2007 12:52pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

Playing devil's advocate here... but in a loose sense you are saying that its acceptable to screw up 8 times out of 10 because those 2 times its done right its so blissful, etc... too bad that the people who pay us for what we do aren't so kind and forgiving...

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Poster: barongsong Date: Apr 6, 2007 12:32pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

Yea I usually would notice and maybe give a slight wince at lyrical flubs and if the energy kept flowing go on not be bothered at all. There is only one show that really sends shivers down my spine and thats this 82 Greek show that is possibly one of the finest shows of all time in my book and right at the height of it all Bobby completely comes out with the wrong lyric and wrong time and you can literally hear if not see the train rolling off the track to the jagged rocks below. Luckily that train had so much momentum it double twisted and hit the air again and the show went on to some great heights despite it. But otherwise yea shit happens best to enjoy the moment while it's there.

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Poster: buscameby Date: Apr 6, 2007 1:16pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

well Ive been taught the only thing we have control over is how we react to things, so what are our choices, I guess you can leave if it bothers you that much or never listen to the them, they never disappoint you then.

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Poster: JodyC Date: Apr 6, 2007 5:38pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

They toured longer and harder than most, had a larger repetoire than most, partied harder (at least for a long time)than most, played more complicated music than most, felt a greater need to appeal to their "family" than most, had as much financial pressure on them than most. So if they f-d up more than most bands, then so be it. We still pretty much worship them. And when a baseball player is considered a god for batting .333-well you see my point.

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Poster: BryanE Date: Apr 6, 2007 7:22pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

Thanks, Jody. As always, well stated.

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Poster: BryanE Date: Apr 6, 2007 8:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

Do you feel snobby? Anyone wants the best they can get, especially from something that has the potential to be so superb. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't disappointing when any of them suffered from brain farts at the mike. Maybe because when it was good, it was SO good, that mistakes here and there were veritable sore thumbs. And it made them none too proud when it happened, either. I was close enough to the stage at one show in particular to be able to hear Jerry's unmiked frustration with himself after stumbling into lyric quicksand from which there was barely any escape: "Got a wife in Cherokee (as he immediately realized that he'd blown it) and one in Chino, too. First one says she's got my child (the duality of his thought process became visible on his face at that point with the realization that, even though he maintained the meter of the song by inserting the word 'too' after 'Chino,' he just wasn't quick enough on the draw to come up with a fitting word to rhyme with 'too'), but it don't look like me." Friend of the Devil reached its last notes, and he walked upstage, barking out "FUCK!" as he shook his head in disgust.

Personally, I haven't an inch of room to talk. Stumbling over my words while on the air here at the radio station is a constant struggle for me. And I will never forget the night when I went up on my lines while playing Tartuffe in summer stock almost 16 years ago. There I was in front of a packed house, suddenly clueless to the point that I would have been unable to say my own name, let alone my next line. It probably lasted about a half minute in real time, but felt to me like a millenium.

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Poster: clashcity Date: Apr 6, 2007 8:36am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

Do I feel snobby?

Not at all... although critiquing anything especially music does have an element of that to it no matter what... especially when all I am doing is listening. Analogous to the sportswriter who never played a sport in his life..

I'm not faulting them for their mistakes and certainly couldn't do half as well if placed in those shoes...

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Poster: BryanE Date: Apr 6, 2007 9:25am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

If I could only do half as well, I'd be a proud and happy man.

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Poster: grendelschoice Date: Apr 6, 2007 8:34am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

Hey, man--I sympathize as well..I'm also in radio and want to punch myself in the face every time I stumble and stutter....agree that I wouldn't care so much in the case of the Dead if I didn't know just how perfect they can be when they really really REALLY nail a great song--music and words.

This is why I love 1977 so much. I no other year did they pull off both so successfully!

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Poster: smi2les Date: Apr 6, 2007 8:24am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

This is a birthday of a Vegas show. The night of flubber, Compton used to be in this run, but just Vegas and Irvine.
The next night in Irvine I caught some chick in my bag stealing the 1st set......the whole things on tape in the 2nd set........Master's went to the East.......
http://www.archive.org/details/gd84-04-06.sbd.willy.10159.sbeok.shnf

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Poster: Earl B. Powell Date: Apr 6, 2007 10:33am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

For me, lyrical flubs are just painful moments, but singing off key kills it deader than Jerry. Then there's off key harmonies, out of tune guitars, and way out of meter drummers. How did they ever get it right?

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Poster: not_a_typical_daydream Date: Apr 6, 2007 7:03am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

For me, perfection is something to strive for in the studio. Listen to St. Stephen from Ladies and Gentlemen... and they all start singing something different on the last verse. And I believe on 6/7/77 they don't sing any of the first verse of Scarlet, this is probably an equipment failure instead of a flub, but Phil's bass is very groovy to listen to.

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Poster: HiRoller Date: Apr 6, 2007 12:37pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

My only problem with the 5/25/77 show is that they completely skip the second verse of Fire on the Mountain. It's still one of the best versions, though.

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Poster: clashcity Date: Apr 6, 2007 7:05am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

This is a toughy because sometimes they will make up for it musically with more inspired jams, etc... Also, there is a huge difference between a missed word or two, or being a bit out of time at the beginning of a song and blowing a verse(s) (many a Foolish Heart come to mind) or just mumbling your way through half the song. I find it amazing this didn't happen more often given Bob's dyslexia and Jerry's ability to be high as a kite on smack and still stand.

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Poster: grendelschoice Date: Apr 6, 2007 7:30am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

Yeah, a word here or there is one thing....but when Jerry goes for whole lines of lyrics mumbling or whining (like in Shakedowns where he blows the words) it just kills the damn song for me.

I've also wondered why they couldn't fix things "on the fly" so to speak.....on only a couple of occassions have I heard Jerry successfully do this--there's a "He's Gone" out there in which he sings the "cat on a tin roof" lyric before the "9 mile skid" lyric, and rather than sing the same line twice or mumble, he just goes w/it and sings "hot as a pistol but cool inside" where the "nuthin left to do..." line should be...I like that!

Also, there's a "Ramble" in which he reverses the last two verses so that Mary Shelly and Frankenstein come before Crazy Otto and Wolfman Jack, but better that than just panicking and mumbling thru a great lyric.

All I know is if there are blown words then the music better be damn hot to make up for it....to me, this was very much not the case thru most of the 80's ('85-'88 in particular) and that's a bad combination.


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Poster: Fishead Date: Apr 6, 2007 8:54am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

i find myself screwing up all the time singing along. so
being that they are up on stage in front of a crowd and playing an instrument makes it that more difficult to remember the words ..so i don't fault them ..i just laugh and wait for that jerry moment that's about to come!!! :)

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Poster: sydthecat2 Date: Apr 6, 2007 10:07am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

I thought their flubs were part of the mythos. Truckin' anyone? Back when there was a coterie of us Heads and we mainlined the boys 24/7 I remember playing Hershey, Penn. '85 for a pal and he told me he couldn't listen to the Terrapin because at a key moment Jerry hits a wrong note on his guitar. So write it off. Excuse me? Am I losing my mind here? We're listening to a concert that has not been released officially or tampered with; that if he'd been in the audience he'd have been screaming "Terrapin!" at the top of his lungs not even hearing the bum note!!

If I'm in the car listening and Jerry really does a nosedive with the lyrics, I sing over top of him until he gets it together. Anyways, if anyone's sitting on a bunch of concerts that they cannot abide because of lyrical flubs I'll send you my address and take 'em off your hands.

Except 1995.

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Poster: ducats Date: Apr 6, 2007 10:41am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

the problem arises w/Jerry's completely mumbled versus - it throws him off hence his playing suffers - there are very few smokin Jer tunes out there where he completely blows the lyrics - and from the coma on he basically blew a large majority of his tunes - with the teleprompter! bless his sole
u want to hear how it should be; that last week's Visions of Johanna - long song nailed.

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Poster: smi2les Date: Apr 7, 2007 7:40am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Lyrical flubs--Deal breaker or no big Deal?

Most heads I know find it humorous when a member would space.

Evern Remember Grace Slick coming back to the mic after a band jam. Instead of grabbing the mic, she grabbed the rose also on here mic stand and started singing into it. More comical......I did demand my $8.50 back, but on the other hand if a well rehearsed band had this issue, I'd demand my big and fat $45.00 back.